YOU ARE AT:Network Infrastructure@CTIA: T-Mobile USA throws hat into pops race

@CTIA: T-Mobile USA throws hat into pops race

LAS VEGAS – The battle for data coverage is now in full effect with T-Mobile USA Inc. saying it expects to cover 185 million potential customers with its HSPA+ network by the end of the year. The industry’s No. 4 carrier said the network will provide maximum download speeds of up to 21 megabits per second when adequate backhaul services are deployed.
The move pushes T-Mobile USA past both Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp./Clearwire Corp. which plan to cover 100 million and 120 million pops respectively with their LTE and WiMAX networks by year end. Sprint Nextel earlier in the day announced additional markets for its WiMAX expansion this year, while Verizon Wireless is expected to announce initial commercial LTE markets during the show. AT&T Mobility has said it plans to begin rolling out LTE services beginning in 2011 and will spend the rest of this year upgrading its current HSPA network to the 7.2 standard.
Speed tests conducted at the T-Mobile USA event deep inside the Las Vegas Convention Center showed network download speeds of around 8 Mbps and upload speeds of around 2.5 Mbps with latency of 57 milliseconds. Tests using the same Web site at the same time on Sprint Nextel/Clearwire’s WiMAX network provided download speeds of 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds of 500 kilobits per second. (Of course, your mileage may vary.)
T-Mobile USA unveiled the HSPA+ network in the Philadelphia area last fall, noting that expansion for this year would include more than 100 metropolitan areas including New York City, parts of New Jersey, Long Island, suburban Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. It’s assumed Las Vegas could also be on the list as the carrier was using an installed cell site outside the LVCC to show off the networks capabilities.
While T-Mobile USA may have been late to the 3G party having begun installing its UMTS/HSPA network in earnest beginning last year, the carrier is aggressively moving towards speedier versions of the technology. The carrier noted that the delayed 3G deployment had the benefit of allowing the carrier to use the most up-to-date network infrastructure that required only software upgrades to provide the HSPA+ speeds. The carrier pegged the upgrade costs in the $200 million to $300 million range.
T-Mobile USA seemed confident that the current amount of AWS spectrum that it’s using for its 3G network, which ranges between 15 and 20 megahertz depending on market, will be sufficient to handle expected capacity requirements for the foreseeable future. It did add that it was interested in the Federal Communications Commission’s plans to free up additional spectrum for mobile services. This is expected as T-Mobile USA does not currently have spare capacity to launch so-called “4G” technologies.
As for backhaul support, T-Mobile USA said it has run Ethernet-equivalent capable capacity to about 20% of its 47,000 total cell sites and will be upgrading additional sites as the HSPA+ network upgrades continue.
The carrier did not announce any changes to its current wireless data price plans to coincide with its expansion plans having recently updated those plans to line up with its Even More Plus option that allows customers to sign-up for service without signing a contract.

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